The past six days I’ve spent a lot of hours looking for signs. Mostly I’ve been reading the signs of my body: need for liquids, need for rest, need for medicines to ease the side effects of chemo. I’ve also been looking for signs that the worst of it is over. So when today’s Gospel has Jesus scolding the gathering crowds that “no sign shall be given except the sign of Jonah”, I have been wondering what that could mean for me?
I usually enjoy watching my hummingbird feeders and have been happy to see that there are still a few loyal followers now in October. But in the past few days the feeders have been covered with bees. The spectacle is not nearly so entertaining. At best I figure I am helping ward off “colony collapse”. Today the sight of those bees swarming over the ports reminded me of the crowds coming to Jesus in hopes of signs and wonders. Maybe a healing, the driving out of a demon or two, or the multiplication of loaves and fishes… But Jesus says they are an evil generation and the only sign they will get is the sign of my old friend Jonah. That reluctant prophet had a message of conversion for the people of Nineveh and no one was more surprised (or disappointed) than he was when they took that message to heart.
What message of conversion am I reluctant to hear today? Am I just drawn to the sweetness of the Gospel or am I willing to hear a challenging word and let it turn my heart to God? I thought about an article I read this morning from yesterday’s New York Times called The Refugees at our Door. The tragic and complicated crisis of women and children fleeing the Northern Triangle of Central America has been an issue I have followed for some years. I have met these families and heard their stories. Today, still feeling pretty sick and tired, I found the article almost too much to take. And yet, I wondered, is this the sign of Jonah for me? The bottom line of the story is that we have forced Mexico to stem the tide of refugees in order to keep them from reaching our southern border- so we don’t have to see the misery, hear the stories, or offer assistance.
Pope Francis challenged Congress to not be put off by the numbers of immigrants seeking refuge but to see them as human beings in need. I post the link to the article here and invite you to read in this story the sign of Jonah I saw today: